As we all know, promotion from the Championship and into the big time of the Premier League is one of the most lucrative promotions in world football. However, it is possible that it has saved the future of Leeds United.
Today the financial reports for the 2019/20 season have been released. Leeds recorded a remarkable £62m loss in their bid to finally escape the clutches of the second division.
Due to their success of lifting the trophy back in July, the £62m losses are a drop in the ocean to the volume of income they have received since making the step up to the topflight. Although, it could have all been so very different in West Yorkshire.
Had Marcelo Bielsa failed to guide the Whites to the title, Leeds could have been in serious trouble this season.
The £62m loss takes into account £20m in promotion bonuses alongside a £7m rebate to broadcasters following their champions status. If you were to remove these two figures, the losses are still almost double that of the season before.
Surviving with £35m losses in the Championship in regular circumstances is something of an anomaly – never mind in COVID times. CEO, Angus Kinnear, after promotion said this “if we hadn’t made it this year there was going to need to be a financial reset with the squad to fall within profit and sustainability targets.”
Such substantial losses would no doubt have meant no Kalvin Phillips, no hope of promotion, and even more importantly, no Bielsa. The familiar potential threat of points deductions would have loomed threateningly over the head of Leeds, forcing them into a conceivable reality of a further 16 years of pain.
Not only would Bielsa have most likely moved on from his bucket in the dugout at Elland Road, but combined with a large wholesale within the squad, fans not being allowed into grounds could have been enough to topple Leeds’ financial stability.
Last season, the Whites received over £11m in gate receipts (source @thepriceoffootball on Twitter) – the second largest source of income behind merchandise income. Without this huge portion of income, this season’s Leeds United could have been vastly different to the one we are watching grace the Premier League in 2021.
We would be looking at a side desperate for survival having made drastic changes, much like what we’ve witnessed down at Sheffield Wednesday this season. A once promising project now clinging on for their place in the second division; with uninspiring players being led by an uninspiring manager.
Fortunately, promotion did happen, Bielsa did lift the trophy on the Elland Road pitch after that thrashing of Charlton Athletic. Financial turmoil is a thing of the past, and a figment of an alternate reality in which Raphinha isn’t adorning the white of Leeds United, and Patrick Bamford doesn’t have 15 Premier League goals.